DREAM girls celebrate service accomplishments

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 23, 2015

Every dream begins with a dreamer. For the members of Determined to Reach, Empower, And Mentor Girls, also known as DREAM Girls, realizing the potential they have as dreamers is very important.

On April 18, these 16 girls participated in a formal gala to recognize their achievements to date.

Lennetta T. Bartley, principal of Henderson Independent High School, and Dr. Jonita H. Powell, Strayer University full time faculty member, delivered the keynote addresses and urged the girls to hold fast to their dreams even in the face of fear and adversity.

Every Thursday after school at Isenberg Elementary, these young ladies participate in DREAM sessions, rap sessions centered on issues and topics surrounding self-worth, self-concept and community issues.

Tadiana Hassan, a fifth-grader, shared that her favorite part of DREAM Girls is the sessions, especially sharing the “highs and lows” for the week.

Donna Schmeltzer, a second-grader at Isenberg, said that she could not wait until fourth grade so that she would be able to participate in DREAM Girls.

Michelle Cartwright, a fourth-grader, explained the impact DREAM Girls has on the community.

“When we did the carwash, the people (Susan G. Komen Foundation) were very happy that we were able to help out.”

In addition to exploring themselves and understanding the value in building self-esteem as well as building and maintaining positive peer relationships, the DREAM Girls also learn their power in the community.

Last school year, they volunteered more than 50 hours on community service projects including Relay for Life; a car wash for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure; a sock drive, in which they donated over 800 pair of socks to Rowan Helping Ministries; organized a food drive to collect and donate holiday food baskets to three needy families in the area; collected and donated winter items, such as hats, gloves, scarves and socks to Rowan Helping Ministries. They also decorated a Christmas tree for the ARC of Rowan County’s “Festival of Trees.”

The DREAM Girls are currently raising funds for their culminating DREAM Session for the 2014-15 school year. The final session will be held at Great Wolf Lodge in Concord. Donations are being accepted through GoFundMe.

Determined to Reach, Empower And Mentor Girls Inc. is a nonprofit mentoring and community service organization that serves fourth- and fifth-grade girls in Rowan County. Alexis Richardson founded the program in 2013 when she recognized a need to combat the bullying among the girls at Isenberg. Upon interviewing several girls she found that the key issues were girls’ low self-esteem and a lack of positive women role models. In 2014, DREAM Girls were first runner-up for Rowan County’s Service Above Self Award.